McDonald’s Reinvents the Straw


OAK BROOK, Ill. — McDonald’s recently introduced a limited-edition straw — designed by a team of aerospace and robotics engineers — for use with its new Chocolate Shamrock Shake. The shake, which features layers of chocolate and mint, is one of four new seasonal McCafé beverages launched by the QSR.

The Chocolate Shamrock Shake presented McDonald’s with a new challenge — to deliver a flavour ratio of equal parts chocolate and mint in each sip, which would have been impossible with a traditional straw. To create the limited-edition straw, the restaurant chain worked with Jace and NK Labs to create a tube with a reverse axial withdrawal system — in other words, a ‘J’-shaped straw.

“It was a puzzling assignment but one with an ambitious goal,” says Seth Newburg, principal engineer and managing partner at NK Labs. “From a physics perspective, it’s actually quite difficult to deliver a proportional amount of both chocolate and mint flavors with each sip, but that’s exactly what we did. It’s a marvel of fluid dynamics. Thanks Fibonacci sequence.”

The other three beverages in the mint-chocolate-flavoured shamrock series include the Shamrock Chocolate Chip Frappé made with a blend of chocolate chips and a hint of coffee, topped with green sprinkles, whipped topping and chocolate drizzle; Shamrock Mocha, featuring espresso, steamed milk, mint- and mocha-flavoured syrup, whipped topping and chocolate drizzle; and the Shamrock Hot Chocolate made with mint- and mocha-flavoured syrup, whipped topping and chocolate drizzle.

Due to the complex manufacturing process of the burger chain’s new straw, only 2,000 have been produced in time for the arrival of shamrock season. They will be available at select restaurants in the U.S., where $.25 from every Shamrock beverage will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities during the week of March 11 to 17. The company has not announced any plans for an international launch.

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